NFL concussion settlement has implications for players, fans - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

NFL concussion settlement has implications for players, fans

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New Orleans, La. - The NFL has reached a settlement agreement with thousands of former players who have filed concussion lawsuits. It's a $765 million agreement that must still be approved by a judge.

Look back on former Saints player John Fourcade's career and, he says, you can see he's been hit in the head quite a few times.

"I've had some concussions where I went back in two or three plays later," said Fourcade.

They were decisions made 30 years ago that continue to affect him to this day.

"I'm still having headaches and vision problems and glareness problems, and I'm still suffering from sometimes... I hate to say it, but I am suffering sometimes from not remembering things," said Fourcade.

He's one of more than 4,500 former players who filed concussion lawsuits.

The $765 million settlement could save the NFL years of much costlier litigation, and it could save fans from the unwanted distraction from the game.

"The Bountygate situation in New Orleans and how the fans were so fed up with that, and every day you hear another revelation and another denial and another charge... well, this lawsuit on concussions, it's a league-wide thing that could have been Bountygate times 32," said former Saints executive Jim Miller.

The settlement could also set a precedent for future lawsuits. "The next suit, they won't be able to claim that the NFL didn't know, the NFL wasn't responsive, and the NFL didn't put their money where their mouth is," said Miller.

Fourcade and the others involved in the suit don't know how much, if any, money they'll be awarded. However, one key feature of the proposed settlement is that $10 million will go toward medical research.

Dr. Greg Stewart, a sports medicine expert at Tulane University, hopes some of the money is awarded to Tulane. The school has one of six sites in the country with a specific NFL neurological care program.

"If guys started calling tomorrow, we'd start scheduling them and bringing them in. We've got the team to be able to evaluate them and take care of them," said Stewart.

Research is needed for long- and short-term treatment solutions. It's also needed to find prevention techniques such as redesigning the helmet. Stewart says the helmet is designed to protect the face more than the head and neck.

"The brain floats in the skull, so as you hit someone, the brain continues to move. So there's still a component that, no matter how good the helmet is, there's still some potential for damage to the brain," said Stewart.

Fourcade says the research is the most important part. "That's the main thing. We want to make sure it's not just for us, but for guys down the road," Fourcade said.

If approved, the settlement money would provide for medical benefits and injury compensation for retired NFL players, fund medical and safety research, and cover litigation expenses.

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